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Friday, October 30, 2009

Lost optimism

I can’t find my youthful optimism.

I have searched everywhere for the damned thing, but like a new wallet, it is proving nearly impossible to locate.

At first I thought I might have left it at the liberal bookstore which I visit, and not only because I love to irritate them with my concealed carry and my vest with all the military patches, but also because they have a great antiquarian section. It’s also on the other side of town, so I can usually feel like I went on a trip somewhere exotic. I call it liberal because for the longest time, they had every Obama doodad known to man – except for Beck’s dashboard Obama, which was a bummer.

In recent times, however, the liberal bookstore has taken a bit of a turn. They still have some fine old books there, but the cast of the rest of the store is turning decidedly conservative, with pocket copies of the Constitution, Thomas Paine and other lofty texts slowly edging out the creepy Sunstein stuff and other even less-mentionables.

But alas, my youthful optimism wasn’t there, hiding amongst dusty copies of “Dreams of my Father,” “Meet President Obama,” or “Obama: The Historic Journey.” Nor was it anywhere in the bookstore – even snuggling up to the collection of Lord Byron’s best, which was about as far away from Obama’s stuff as you could get.

My youthful optimism wasn’t at the hardware store – much as you might expect, because far too many household repairs and swamp-cooler problems have landed me there, staring up and down the endless aisles looking for some obscure part or another. Nor was the damned thing out in my ’73 Stingray. Now that I’ve finally decided to sell it, my optimism is avoiding it like the boat dear Charon pilots across the River Styx. Figures. They’re both probably made out of fiberglass.

And my television buddy, Beck didn’t have it either – he’s too busy scribbling arcane things on chalkboards, forecasting the end of capitalism, civilization, coitus, cabbages or some such thing beginning with the letter “C.”

I checked the shop out behind my house, but amongst the knife making equipment and steel bits, were only wood shavings and tiny pieces of turquoise and mammoth tusk – all too quiet to drop the dime on the squirrely, scampering optimism. In a brief flash of insight, I asked the English Bulldog, but he just stared up at me with bleary red eyes, face melting into the carpet. Apparently his optimism has gone missing as well.

So now I was looking for two of the damned things, and there was no use asking the parrot. As a refugee from the Amazon, he’s just really cranky. And I checked all the usual places as well – the movie store, the refrigerator, the weight stack – nope, nope and nope.

The junk-food vendors up and down the street are out of the question, because the White House has all those staked out. Can’t go check the smoke shop, because all the real Kooks now probably believe the tobacco has been micro-chipped or laced with swine-flu or bubonic plague or something – and who knows? They might be right. Can’t ask at the gun store, either, because the men-in-black might come around asking questions and inform on me at “Black Helicopter Headquarters.”

The priests won’t be able to find these little optimisms, because they’re too busy warning us about Hell or actually setting up a nice toasty place to move into down there, themselves, when they’re done messing things up on Earth. Can’t find the damned optimism in the sports arenas or inside a bottle – and despite the push to legalize marijuana, I doubt my optimism (or the bulldog’s) would find a comfortable home in a joint.

For a short while I thought maybe the Czars might have a location on the things, after all, they are allegedly managing everything else. But no – they’re not really doing anything but eating out at fancy restaurants and occupying posh offices, so no dice there either. I’d ask Obama himself, but he can’t answer any questions without a teleprompter, so it would be a fairly one-sided conversation – and his buddies Rahm and Gibbs Blob would just lie. Can’t say for sure, but I think if I asked Biden, he’d say something like “Well, if you ask me, ‘Joe, where is my Optimism, I’m going to tell you You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.... I'm not joking.’"

No, to be honest, I’m not sure where my youthful optimism has gone – and the bulldog has just gone to sleep and given up on the whole affair.

Where does it go for any of us? What hidden corner? What lofty peak? What stony, inaccessible wilderness trail?

Perhaps it goes nowhere. Perhaps it is like a sand-castle, worn away on the beach of time by unending tides. Yet always the sand remains, to be reconstituted. And always the picture of the castle of optimism lives there in the seashore of our dreams – just out of sight in our mind’s eye.

Waiting for us to build it again. Waiting for us to believe.

God, I hope so.

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